SBTC consultant hopes churches capture vision for multi-housing ministry

DALLAS?More than 60 percent of Texans live in apartment units, and 96 percent of those tenants are unsaved. That means great potential for ministry exists for churches, said Barbara Oden, multi-housing church planting consultant with SBTC.

Oden, who has worked with creating and structuring multi-housing ministries for the past 20 years in such cities as New York City, Las Vegas, Houston, and Dallas, is also a former apartment manager, so she knows the rules of the game well.

“I think if we’re going to reach our cities in America with the message of Christ, then we have to get into these communities,” Oden said. “Apartment complexes are growing and growing every day.”

The Texas Apartment Association (TAA), for example, represents apartments in 26 cities providing housing for more than 3.8 million Texans in 1.5 million rental-housing units.

Texas has been very proactive in getting the word out and so there has been more conferencing (in multi-housing ministry) here than in any other state,” Oden said.

Multi-housing ministry provides a sense of community in very close proximities, Oden noted. These ministries offer classes that meet the needs and wants of the tenants such as after-school tutoring for children, crafts, cooking, art, Bible studies, Spanish as a Second Language (SSL), English as a Second Language (ESL) and more.

“The apartment managers want a tool that will keep the people from moving out, so they are looking for something to offer the residents,” Oden said.

The multi-housing ministry provides that with classes, free of charge, run by local church volunteers. “We are looking to create classes and activities necessary to be able to build relationships with people who are not the least bit interested in God,” Oden said. “Multi-housing ministries in Texas congregations are reaching people who would never darken the door of our churches.”

Oden said it is not unusual for church services to take place in the apartment complex after the volunteers have established a meeting place and time. “They are winning people to Christ, baptizing them, starting Bible studies, having regular services there,” Oden said.

One pastor and his wife, Harry and Nilda Impini of Mission Lochwood/La Mission in Dallas, spend each week at a local apartment complex ministering to children and their families.

During the school year, Nilda oversees two kindergarten classes a week fo

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